The Canadian government has just received a report card on its commitments to fulfilling children's rights from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. Canada was given mixed reviews from the UN.
The UN appreciated Canada's strides to strengthen laws protecting children from sexual exploitation and the provision of new programs and services. The UN also highlighted the importance of governing and establishing better co-ordination between the provincial and federal government.
The federal government tabled 127 pages of responses to the UN's questions just two weeks before the hearings. And while the documents were full of facts, figures and links to websites, they did not show systematically whether any of the provincial or federal initiatives were improving the lives of Canadian children.
The Committee is concerned that despite the State party’s significant resources, there has been a lack of funding directed towards the improvement of early childhood development and affordable and accessible early childhood care and services. The Committee is also concerned by the high cost of child-care, the lack of available places for children, the absence of uniform training requirements for all child-care staff and of standards of quality care. The Committee notes that early childhood care and education continues to be inadequate for children under four years of age. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned that the majority of early childhood care and education services in the State party are provided by private, profit-driven institutions, resulting in such services being unaffordable for most families.
Referring to General Comment No. 7 (CRC/C/GC/7/Rev.1, 2005), the Committee recommends that the State party further improve the quality and coverage of its early childhood care and education, including by:
- Prioritizing the provision of such care to children between the age of 0 and 3 years, with a view to ensuring that it is provided in a holistic manner that includes overall child development and the strengthening of parental capacity;
- Increasing the availability of early childhood care and education for all children, by considering providing free or affordable early childhood care whether through State-run or private facilities;
- Establishing minimum requirements for training of child care workers and for improvement of their working conditions; and
- Conducting a study to provide an equity impact analysis of current expenditures on early childhood policies and programs, including all child benefits and transfers, with a focus on children with higher vulnerability in the early years.
To read the concluding observations of the UN committee, click here.
To read the CCAAC's (our national partner) letter to the NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child this fall, click here.
To read an article from Huffington Post, click here.
To read more go to the Toronto Star article.